The Bears made unprecedented changes in 2015, hiring both a general manager in Ryan Pace and head coach in John Fox in the same year for the first time in franchise history.
And while the team only improved one game in the standings from 5-11 in 2014 to 6-10, Pace and Fox fostered a 180-degree culture change throughout Halas Hall, bringing accountability and respect.
After suffering lopsided losses of 41, 28 and 21 points the previous season, the Bears were in virtually every game in 2015. Six of their final seven defeats came by margins of 3, 3, 2, 6, 3 and 4 points with two of the losses in overtime.
The Bears opened the season by dropping their first three games to the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks, opponents that have made the playoffs the past two seasons while combining for a 68-28 record in 2014-15.
Jay Cutler had arguably his best season since joining the Bears in 2009.
While compiling an impressive 5-3 record on the road, the Bears stumbled to a 1-7 mark at Soldier Field, their worst home record in franchise history. It was the first time they lost all three division home games since the NFL realigned in 2002.
The Bears rebounded from their 0-3 start to win four of six games to improve to 4-5. But they were never able to reach the .500 mark, dropping five of their final seven contests.
The highlight of the season came on Thanksgiving night in Green Bay, when the Bears ruined a Brett Favre jersey retirement celebration with a stunning 17-13 win over the Packers. The defense clinched the win by forcing Aaron Rodgers to throw four straight incomplete passes from the 8-yard line in the final minute of the game.
Heading into the contest, the Bears had lost four straight and 10 of 11 to their arch rivals with their only win during that stretch coming in 2013 when Rodgers exited with a broken collarbone on Green Bay's first possession.
The low point of the season came over the next two weeks when the Bears lost back-to-back heartbreakers at Soldier Field to the 49ers 26-20 in overtime and the Redskins 24-21. Robbie Gould uncharacteristically missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of regulation against San Francisco and a late 50-yarder versus Washington.
Offensively, Jay Cutler had arguably his best season since joining the Bears in 2009, posting a career-high 92.3 passer rating while reducing his interceptions from 18 in 2014 to 11. Cutler didn't have a multi-interception game until the season finale against the Lions.
Cutler's performance was even more impressive considering that the Bears were decimated by injuries at the receiver position. Rookie Kevin White, the seventh overall pick in the draft, missed the entire season with a stress fracture in his shin. Alshon Jeffery was limited to nine games due to injuries to his calf, groin, hamstring and shoulder. Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson also missed significant time as well.
Running back Matt Forte showed no signs of slowing down at the age of 30, leading the Bears in rushing for the eight straight year—the longest stretch since Walter Payton was the team's top rusher for 12 consecutive years from 1975-86.
Forte ran for 898 yards and four touchdowns on 218 carries, despite missing three games with a knee injury. In 2015, he became the second fastest player in NFL history to compile 8,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards receiving behind only Marshall Faulk.
Up front, Kyle Long moved from right guard to right tackle and left guard Matt Slauson showed his versatility by temporarily switching to center following injuries to Will Montgomery and Hroniss Grasu.
Defensively, the Bears operated a 3-4 scheme for the first time in franchise history under first-year coordinator Vic Fangio. The unit's best stretch came during the middle of the season when it allowed just six touchdowns in a five-game span—the same number of TDs the Bears defense had permitted in the first half of a 55-14 loss to the Packers in 2014.
Switching from defensive end to outside linebacker, Lamarr Houston rebounded from a torn ACL to record a career-high and team-leading eight sacks. Willie Young made the same transition while also bouncing back from a season-ending injury and had 6.5 sacks.
After leaving the Ravens to sign with the Bears in free agency, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee instilled toughness on defense and produced six sacks, fighting through a knee injury during the second half of the season.
While the defense showed flashes, the Bears didn't generate enough impact plays. They produced only 17 takeaways, didn't have an individual with more than two interceptions for the first time since 1975 and didn't have a return touchdown for the first time since 1997.
Even with White unable to play all season, the Bears received major contributions from their rookies. Second-round defensive tackle Eddie Goldman appeared in 15 games with 12 starts and recorded 4.5 sacks. Grasu, a third-round center, started eight games.
Fourth-round running back Jeremy Langford rushed for 537 yards and a team-high six touchdowns on 148 carries and caught 22 passes for 279 yards and 1 TD. And fifth-round safety Adrian Amos started all 16 games and led the Bears with 108 tackles.